Apr 24, 2017

Vishu themed Cake | Baby's naming ceremony | Traditional Kerala style design

The last themed cake I make was back in August 2015. Yes! It's true...I don't think I have shared that cake here yet either...meh! The whole time I excused myself from any fancy cake stuff in the excuse of being pregnant, then due to our move to Charlotte,  all of my 'cake stuff' were packed away into dozens of boxes and then our newborn came along etc etc

Anyways not going to dwell in the past, so here I'm sharing my latest cake , thanks to some awesome friends who trusted me to the core on everything from flavor to design. Our friends S and S had had their third baby boy in March and they planned to have a fun get-together with close friends and family on April 14th to celebrate the baby's naming ceremony which happens when the baby is 28 days old. April 14th also happened to be the day of Vishu festival, which is a popular harvest festival for folks from the state of God's Own Country, Kerala .


As it was Vishu festival and also the naming ceremony (aka, Iruvathiettukettu in malayalam) I decided to go for a traditional look which will depict both the festival as well as signify the baby's special occasion.

One of the most popular arrangements done for Vishu, other than a scrumptious vegetarian feast (sadhya), is the VishuKani. The Malayalam word kani means 'that which is seen first', so Vishukkani means 'that which is seen first on Vishu'. The Vishu kani arrangements usually consists of a tray or golden bowl, Uruli filled with various vegetables and fruits, a mirror, ornaments, new dress and most popularly, yellow Konna flowers along with a Lamp and the photo of a Hindu god.
I used a random image of a Vishukani from google  and re-created the look using gumpaste and this is what it looked like. I was lucky enough to find the yellow flowers at a local art&craft store that perfectly resembled the yellow Konna flowers. Except for the flowers all other VishuKani items are made from gumpaste and edible.



To signify the baby's naming ceremony function, I decided to make a cute little sleeping baby figurine and a tray filled with the various ornaments that we would adorn the baby for the first time after he/she is born which generally includes a Gold waist chain, Gold baby bangles and anklets, Black thread worn around the waist and black bangles (karivala).  Again all items are made from gumpaste and edible.



Here's another look at the Tray of ornaments and Vishu kani arrangement.


For the overall deisgn on the cake I went for the Kerala Set Sari/Mundu design which is ideally a cream/ivory colored cloth with gold border.


When I took it my friend's home, they wanted to display it along with some traditional Lamps, statue of baby Krishna and also their Vishu kani tray. Here are some pics taken by my friend himself. 



That's me with my little Mihika baby. It was her very first Vishu and we are wearing traditional Kerala style Set sari and pattupavada respectively and coincidentally our colors matched - Orange. Anyways, I'm digressing from the actual topic... the Cake ;-)



The cake flavor was White Cake with a filling of Mango mousse, pieces of mango and peach with vanilla Buttercream frosting on the outside.  I didn't get a picture of the sliced cake but it'll look exactly like the cake slice from this cake.

Everyone was thrilled to see the cake and had never seen a traditional Kerala theme depicted on a cake. I was thrilled to be able to successfully deliver the design I had in mind and anyone from Kerala could relate to it without even explaining the theme.

Although not entirely perfect I was very happy with how the cake came out. Buttercream frosting is not my favorite when trying to get smooth and clean sides but I did not have the time to do a fondant cake. Maybe next time... ;-)
Hope you enjoyed this cake as much as I did from making to blogging about it. So until next time all I have to say is do what you love doing and see you all soon!

-Manju

Mar 16, 2017

Chilli Fish or Fish Manchurian | Indo-Chinese fusion dish


Hello and welcome to my first post for this year :-) How is everyone?  I’m doing very well and having fun with my two beautiful little ones at home. I’ve been back to working full time since last October, so that keeps me additionally busy as well. Any free moment after the kids sleep is spent with me trying to catch up on my sleep…Lol! Baby girl is a good little girl, she eats and sleeps well, but she still has her random night time wakings and wants some mommy cuddle time.

Mihi baby is 8 months old as of today  and goodness time is  flying. Appu is having more fun with her now as she is getting more responsive and playful with him and as for Mihi, she adores her big bro and is always waiting for a moment to catch his attention. She starts making noises and saying baba and tata whenever she sees Appu. I love this little world that I am in now and trying to absorb all of it!


Ever since Appu started Kindergarten, our weekday mornings are a cat and mouse chase against the clock trying to get Appu to wake-up, brush and get dressed for school and eat some quick breakfast before his bus arrives. Sometimes baby girl wakes up and wants to be part of all the morning fun. His bus comes at 7am and after the morning rush Mihi baby looks forward to some cuddle time with her dada. She is most active and does a lot of baby talk at this time and we love this little morning routine of ours.

It snowed here on Saturday…yes!  Charlotte was covered in a white blanket. It was also the Indian festival of Holi, so I joked with my friends saying we played with white color. It was Mihi baby’s first snow , so we bundled her up and took some pics outside.
Big bro Appu had lots of fun with kids in the neighborhood playing with their sledges.  The snow started quickly melting by afternoon, so it didn’t last long! But the climate is still a bit cold, so we are  eagerly looking forward to some time in the sun soon.


I haven't been doing my usual cooking and baking like before but whenever time permits I still try a dish or two now and then. Anything that is quick, easy, less prep time and tastes great are dishes that's on my agenda these days. One pot meals are usually preferred , else 'chop-dump in pressure cooker-done' type meals...Lol!
Now and then I bother taking a pic or two and sharing it on my Instagram profile or on facebook and I was blown over by the response my Fish Manchurian got me :-) 
I have to say, it woke up the blogger in me... :-P I got several 'recipe please' requests so I promised I'll blog about it coz it definitely is blog worthy and let me say really really easy to prepare. And trust me, mom-of-two talking here...


I skipped the big process of frying the fish in flour coated batter and all that. That will definitely make the dish more richer, but that's the most time taking process so I skipped it.  
Also I didn't marinate the fish either, you could do that for more flavor. But it still came out good. Having fish that's cleaned and cut into cubes ready in the freezer is a plus :-)
I took the pics in a hurry just before sunset so they just came out looking blah....but the recipe is more important, so here's how I made it.


Chilli Fish or Fish Manchurian

You’ll Need
For Fish marination:
Boneless Fish fillets – Used 3 big Tilapia filets (cut the fillet in half and then cut into bite sized pieces)
½  teaspoon  Black Pepper powder
½  teaspoon Red chilli powder
¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder
Salt, to taste

For sauce:
1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
½ Red Onion , chopped finely
3 Green Chilies , cut diagonally
3 Garlic  cloves, chopped finely
1” length Ginger, chopped into sticks
3 Tablespoon Ketchup
2 Tablespoon Red Chili Sauce  (I used Chilli Garlic Sauce)
4 teaspoon Soy Sauce
2 teaspoon White Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Corn Starch  
1 cup Water
Green Onions – 3 stalks, cut diagonally for garnishing

Directions:

Pan fry the Fish
1. Marinate the Fish with the spice powders and salt for atleast 30 minutes. (I skipped this)
2. In a non-stick frying pan, spray some oil and once hot, place the fish without crowding the pan.
3. Once one side is browned, gently flip and cook the other side and make sure the fish is fully cooked through. Cooking on a low heat avoids burning the fish and enables even cooking.

(You can always fry the fish in more oil or dip the fish in flour-batter and fry, but I wanted to use as less oil as possible so I just sprayed some oil and cooked on a very low heat until both sides of the fish were browned and cooked through)

For the sauce:
1. Heat oil in a frying pan and add Onions, Green chillies , Ginger, Garlic and cook until onions are mildly browned.
2. Add Ketchup and Red Chilli sauce and sauté until it cooks down and the oil starts to separate.
3.  Next add soy sauce and vinegar and mix well.
4.  Mix the cornstarch with water and add it to the pan. Cook on medium-low heat until the sauce starts to thicken.
5.  Now add the pan fried fish pieces and gently coat the sauce all over the fish . 
6.  Garnish with Green onions and serve!

Suggestions:
You can follow the steps done for the fish using Chicken or Shrimp or use Veggie options like Tofu, Paneer, Eggplant, Baby Corn etc...if you have other suggestions do let me know too :-) 


I know some of you will surely be trying out this dish. Don't forget to let me know how it turned out. If you make any changes or use any specific ingredient that makes the dish even more yumm do let me know. So see you until next time...back to my busy world!
-Manju

Nov 3, 2016

Brownie Butter Cake | Manju's Eating Delights turned 5!


I'm several weeks late in celebrating my blog's birthday but well these days I'm just not able to keep up with anything...Lol!
Though I wouldn't call last year a successful one at blogging as I was literally MIA for almost 9-10 months, this space is still thriving and it still has a lot of loyal followers. I'm so thankful for the love and attention you all give to this space and thereby to me as well. Muah!!



Manju's Eating Delights published it's first blog post on Oct 15th, 2011. Since then it's been my passion, stress buster and companion all along. I love to cook, bake, take pictures of the food I cook and of my family and my favorite part is sharing it here on this little space where I can pen my thoughts, share my opinions and ofcourse safekeep recipes and memories like an online diary of sorts. I started this blog when my son was a sweet little 3 month old and now he's 5years old and now I have another sweet little 3 month old girl. I love my family and they keep me going. 



As many of you know I love Cakes. No celebration according to me is complete without some cake. I've had my eyes on these Brownie Butter cakes ever since I saw a pic of them on Bee's space via Pinterest.  Btw...I just love Pinterest. My other love is Food Network and I can get spend any number of hours immersed in both :-P





These are so easy to make and its the best of both worlds.  In one bite you get a mouth melting butter cake and rich chocolaty brownie. Yumm!

The Butter Cake here is a killer I tell you. It just melts in your mouth. It's one of the best recipes I've tried and makes a perfect 6" cake if you want to make just the cake by itself.

For the Chocolate Brownie portion, if you prefer a sweeter brownie either use Sugar in your recipe or use semi-sweet chocolate chips. I felt the original recipe of Dark chocolate chips with brown sugar resulted in a rather less sweet brownie but the sweetness form Butter Cake makes up for that. So it's your call.


Brownie Butter Cake
Makes 1 loaf cake or one 6" round cake

You’ll Need
For Brownie
5oz Dark Chocolate (Or use Semi-Sweet Chocolate)
¼ cup unsalted Butter
¼ cup Brown Sugar (Or regular Sugar)
1 Egg
¼ cup All purpose Flour

For Butter cake
½ cup unsalted Butter
½ cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 cup sifted  All purpose Flour
¼ teaspoon Baking powder
3 ½ Tablespoons Milk

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
2. Grease and line a loaf pan with parchment paper  (Loaf pan size : 4”x8”)

To make brownie
1. Using double boiler method, melt chocolate and butter and once mildly cooled,  add in brown sugar (or regular sugar) and mix until sugar is fully blended in.
2. Add in the egg and mix well. Finally fold in the flour and mix until everything is combined.
3. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 15 minutes and remove from oven.

To make Butter cake
1. In a bowl, beat Butter and Sugar until smooth and creamy.
2. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat it well.
3. Sift and combine the All-purpose flour and baking powder and fold it in alternating with milk and mix well to form a smooth and thick batter.
4. Reduce oven temp to 320F and spread the butter cake batter very quickly over the brownie and bake for 25-30 minutes or until fully baked. A toothpick inserted in the cake should come out clean.

Some Notes:
1. For the Brownie if you prefer a sweeter taste, use regular Sugar instead of brown sugar. Else use Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips instead of Dark Chocolate.
2. The cake batter when spread over the hot brownie may start to melt, so we need to spread it very quickly or pipe it on using a piping bag.
3. This entire brownie Butter Cake can also be made in a 6”x3” round cake pan if you do not have the correct loaf pan. I used mini loaf pans and adjusted my baking time accordingly.

Source: RasaMalaysia
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Do try this out, trust me, you won't be disappointing! I sign-off now wishing myself plenty more years of blogging ahead and a deep heartfelt Thank you to all who are with me :-)

You can keep up with Blog updates on my FB page

I also share snippets from my life and cooking experiments on :
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ManjusDelights

If you would like to keep up with my craze on Pinterest, follow me here:
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/manjumanish1/

-Manju

Sep 26, 2016

Chocolate Brownies with Walnuts


A warm hello to all. This little space of mine had been silent for a long time now. I missed blogging terribly but I must admit taking a break really helped. A lot of new changes have taken place in the past 10 months and each thing needed it's own personal time and space and blogging definitely took a back seat. 

I wanted to give a long detailed explanation to my absence but I'm going to save you the boredom and just say two major developments happened in the past half year.
First : End of Jan 2016 we moved out of Minneapolis to the Queen city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Although we are still settling down and miss our old friends and familiar places, we have started liking this city and have started making new friends. We bought a new house and Lil'Appu started Kindergarten this year and seems to happy with all his new buddies. So lots of things kept us really busy.

Second: Lets hear some Drum-rolls....we had our second bundle of joy almost a week after Appu's 5th b'day. Yes, my lil'Appu has a little sister now. On July16th,2016 our baby girl, Mihika was born!
So being pregnant until July 16th and being a new Mommy to a newborn from July16th were the other things that I was upto in between all this shifting, house hunting, office work and settling down...Lol!!

We are simply happy to be new parents again and Appu is a dotting big brother who can't seem to get enough of giving her hugs and kisses. We are both happy and super busy with a newborn at home and she is obviously taking up all my time. Our baby girl is 2 months old and times flying past and we are doing our best to absorb all the baby cuteness.

I haven't really bothered with much cooking or baking in a long time. Nothing that was blog worthy at least. Last week however I was feeling a bit relaxed and baby Mihi was being a very good girl so I decided to make a simple batch of Chocolate brownies. I was actually able to make them undisturbed while baby Mihi slept and they came out perfect :-)
I wasn't even planning to blog about it, but when I shared a pic of the brownies on FB, I got hundreds of requests for the recipe and I felt these brownies have to be shared, they are just that good!

I didn't take any good pics, just took few on my mobile and sharing those here. These brownies are almost fudge like, very chocolaty and chewy and the walnuts added a perfect crunch. If you do not prefer walnuts add chocolate chips for a little bite. The top has a nice flaky crust as well as you can see.




Chocolate Brownies with Walnuts
 Makes around 16-20 brownies

You'll Need 
5 oz Semi-sweet Chocolate (chopped)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
2 Tblsp Cocoa powder
1 cup granulated white Sugar
1 tsp Pure Vanilla extract
3 large Eggs (at room temperature)
¾ cup All-purpose flour
Salt, a pinch 
¾ cup chopped Walnuts

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Grease and line an 8" square baking tray with parchment paper. (I used a 9” square pan, an 8” square pan gives thicker brownies)
2. Add 5oz chopped chocolate and chopped butter pieces in a glass bowl and melt them over a double boiler (place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering hot water)
3. Once completely melted remove from heat, add cocoa powder and sugar and whisk gently until the sugar is incorporated well.
4. Next whisk in the vanilla extract and eggs one by one beating well.
5. Finally, stir in the flour, salt and walnuts.
6. Pour into baking tray and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a little batter and a few moist clumps clinging to it. Do not over bake.

Recipe Source: Joyof Baking

I'm not going to make any promises that I'll blog frequently from now but I'm surely going to try to be more regular here. It's such a relief to get back to doing old things that I loved doing and it's great to get back in touch with you all. Do say Hi in the comments if you happen to visit :-) 

-Manju

Nov 11, 2015

Kesar Badam Peda | Diwali special sweet with condensed milk


Wishing everyone a Very Very Happy and fun filled Diwali!!
I look forward to Diwali every year to try out some new Indian sweet and snack recipes. I don't make too many Indian desserts thinking they might be difficult, but I was amazed at how easy these Kesar Badam Peda turned out to be.

My parents are visitng us this Diwali making it all the more special and mummy and I had made some Mango-Coconut Laddoos last weekend. Mummy had never made a Mango laddo and she and daddy enjoyed it. 
We also made couple of other snacks like Diamond shaped Namak Pare, Sweet Boondi last weekend and last night even tried a hand at some Cashew Murukku and Ribbon Pakoda. 
I'm yet to share all these recipes on the blog, which I will share shortly. We've just been so busy spending time with each other and visiting friends and their family that blogging is taking a back seat. :-)



I had some condensed milk left over after making the Mango Laddoos, so to make use of it we tried this super easy Peda recipe which mummy had learnt from a friend while she used to stay in Mumbai couple of years ago. The recipe was actually for Dhoodh Peda (Milk peda) but I did not have Milk powder and instead substituted with Almond powder and made them as Badam Peda (Almond Peda).
The addition of some saffron flavored milk adds a unique and amazing flavor to these sweet chewy fudge like sweet. I also love the way how the saffron stands show out in the peda. 



The whole thing comes together in just about 10-15 mins, it's that easy. I tried taking some stepwise pics which'll help me as well when i want to make these another time :-D
If you have couple of Diwali parties to attend and haven't yet decided on what to take, make these...they look festive and seems like you slogged a lot in the kitchen to prepare and tastes amazing too...no on needs to know how quick and easy they are to make :-)

They taste chewy and fudge like and has a lovely nutty flavor of the badam. The sweetened condensed milk adds enough sweetness and does not require any additional sugar. The saffron definitely elevates the flavor.



Kesar Badam Peda
Makes 16-18 small peda

You’ll Need
1 cup Almond powder
200 gms (about ½ tin)  Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 teaspoons Ghee
1 Tablespoon warm Milk
A pinch of Saffron strands
Chopped Pista/Almonds for garnish

Directions
1. Sift 1 cup almond powder through a sieve. Add a pinch of saffron to 1 tablespoon warm milk. Chop the pistachios for garnish and keep aside.

2. In a bowl mix together the kesar-milk mixture, condensed milk and Almond powder and make a smooth paste.

3. Heat a non-stick pan and add this paste and cook on medium heat until it starts becoming thick. Add 2 teaspoons ghee at this stage and continue to cook until it starts coming together forming a smooth dough and should come off the pan without sticking.

4. Place the peda dough on a greased plate. Grease your palms and while still warm, start rolling out bite-sized balls from the dough and flatten it slightly. Press down the centre and arrange them on the plate. Add the chopped pistachios as garnish in the center.



I have some other simple Diwali recipes which I have tried over the years. Sharing the link in case you want to try any...I hope you will :)
Mango Coconut Laddoo
Kaju Katli (sweet Cashew Fudge)
Gajar Ka Halwa (Carrot Halwa)
Spiced Mango Kalakhand (Ginger spiced Mango Fudge)
Whole Wheat Murukku
Ring Murukku

Happy Diwali once again to all my dear redaers, family and friends!

-Manju

Oct 20, 2015

Tutti-Frutti Shortbread Cookies and the blog's 4!




Last Thursday on Oct15th, my little blog turned a chubby 4 years old. I like to think the blog's growing and getting chubbier with each new blog post that I lovingly feed it with :-)

I want to write a lot, but I'm out of words, all I know is that there is something about writing this blog, sharing recipes and pictures with everyone that keeps me going.  It brings me out of my laziness and keeps my mind active and creative, so I'm glad the blog's growing with each passing year.



These days I’m not too regular with updating the blog and I apologize for that. But with family visitng us over the summer and trying to make the best use of the lovely warm climate, we spent a lot of time with outdoor activities and lots of interstate trips, that we've hardly had any time to just sit with our laptops :-D
Now even after my in-laws have gone we are still busy with so many Fall activities, that blogging is definitely taking a back seat…but in whatever free time I can spare I will still continue to blog, share my thoughts, recipes , fun treats and ideas.  It’s something I want to do and really enjoy doing!


We travelled a lot this year to visit family and friends within the US and had made one such fun trip few months ago to visit some close friends in Texas. It was a short trip but filled with lovely memories of catching up on old tales and meeting our friends and their families. As we were meeting them all after a long time, I decided to bake some bunch of treats for them as they keep asking when will they ever get to taste the goodies I bake and I thought this was the perfect chance. 

These colorful Tutti-frutti Shortbread cookies were one of them. They are so yumm and melts in your mouth , it’s my personal favorite treat to gift anyone. Now with the holiday season coming along, I’m sure some of you might actually enjoy making these and gifting your loved one or even yourself with the little buttery bites. So on the occasion for my blog’s 4th birthday I decided these are just perfect to share with you all!!

Tutti Frutti Shortbread Cookies (Eggless cookies)

Makes around 18-20 cookies

You’ll Need
2 cups All-purpose flour
1 cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature (use good quality Butter)
½ cup Powdered (confectioners or icing) sugar
1 teaspoon pure Vanilla extract
½ or 1 cup colorful Tutti-fruitti candy (or any glazed fruits chopped finely)
¼ teaspoon Salt

Directions
1.  In a separate bowl whisk the flour with the salt and tutti-fruitti and set it aside.

2.  In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until smooth (about 2 minutes).  Beat in the vanilla extract. Gently stir in the flour mixture and tutti-fruitti just until incorporated. 
Roll out the dough to form a log and flatten both ends, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill the dough for at least an hour or until firm. 

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with the rack in the middle of the oven.  Line a  baking sheet with parchment paper.

4.  On a lightly floured surface cut the dough from one flat end into ¼” thick rounds (just like cutting a sausage or a carrot into rounds ;-) ) 

5.  Place on the prepared baking sheets and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. (This will firm up the dough so the cookies will maintain their shape when baked.)
Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until cookies are very lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

UPDATE: For me it had to bake for about 10-12 mins, but keep checking after 8 mins and do not over bake, the cookies might feel soft when just out of the oven, but they will firm up once they begin to cool! Enjoy...

Recipe Source: Joy of Baking


One of Manish's friends wife who tasted these said they were so good and just melted in your mouth almost like eating Mysore Pak ( a popular sweet dish made in India) I was so happy and I'm glad they enjoyed it. 

These cookies being eggless as well, they are perfect for any occasion, be it an Indian festival or some other Holiday. And in my opinion they are easier to make than Mysore Pak :-P So do give it a try and enjoy them !

-Manju